Wireless Gas Leak Monitoring and Detection Technology Simplifies Compliance

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Julian Yeo, Strategic Marketing Manager, United Electric Controls
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wireless gas detection architecture

Detection of toxic and combustible gas leaks is increasingly important for human and environmental protection. Operators must comply to company safety standards and government regulations regarding safety and emissions, yet their current gas leak monitoring and detection may not be adequate.  Extending gas detection coverage, including the cost of planning, design and running conduits for power and signal wires, trenching, and other installation details, can total about $10,000 per device.

In addition to high installation costs, wired gas detection systems have virtually no flexibility.  Once installed, moving them to another location — e.g. temporary maintenance work areas — is cost-prohibitive. Moreover, the reliable power supply that gas detection requires may not always be readily available in remote locations.

Reducing costs with wireless

Wireless technology removes the physical and economic barriers associated with wired gas detection devices. It can save up to 50 percent of installed cost and time and can be applied in both remote and brownfield installations, detecting leaks that might not otherwise be detected by sparsely distributed wired units. Because these detectors do not require installation of wiring infrastructure, installation is simply a matter of locating them within a wireless network and physically mounting them on a wall or pipe with bolts or magnets.

To monitor areas where a common line of radio sight is obstructed, such as tank farms, wireless gas detectors can leverage wireless mesh architectures to self mend broken links and establish reliable communication and then network through a common gateway. And because they are untethered from a power source, wireless sensors can be moved easily where needed most. They can also deliver continuous power for up to five years or longer thanks to advancements in battery technology.

One unique benefit of wireless gas detectors is the ability to easily move them or add more detectors after initial commissioning of a plant. In a few cases, dynamic conditions at a site may initiate a need for the operators to move gas detectors to continue operation. This could be due to any number of factors, including new construction,  different site-development phases, or weather patterns for external installations. Wireless communication also eliminates issues related to competition for wired connections, as might occur, for example, when a remote terminal unit (RTU) already consumes most of available connection capacity.

Joining the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

Using an industrial network protocol, such as WirelessHART sets the stage for the next generation of industrial connectivity. The WirelessHART protocol ensures secure, reliable connectivity and easy migration of data with SCADA systems while also enabling continuous,  simple, plug and play operation. This also provides the opportunity to begin integrating gas leak monitoring and detection with other plant devices, such as pumps and valves, improving safety through improved alarm handling and trend analysis. Such easy data migration also improves asset management by monitoring asset deterioration over time.

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